Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has announced the investment of $30 million in the US into a new testing facility for autonomous cars and advanced driver-assist systems (ADASs). The facility is located at FCA’s Chelsea Proving Grounds in Michigan, and it will start executing testing programs as early as this month.
Encompassing a dedicated autonomous highway-speed track, a 35-acre safety feature evaluation area, and a 6,500-square-foot command center, Fiat Chrysler’s new facility for AV and ADAS testing will play an important role as the automaker pushes to catch up with rival companies in those fields. At its annual Capital Markets Day in June, FCA outlined its plans to continue working with Waymo, and possibly offer that company’s self-driving system in some future mass-market vehicle model. Until then, FCA says it will at least begin rolling out more semi-autonomous features in Jeep, Ram, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati products over the next few years.
“The all-new facility at Chelsea Proving Grounds will help support and enable the successful rollout of the company’s five-year plan laid out earlier this year,” says Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Mike Manley. “Our ability to test for autonomous and advanced safety technologies enables FCA to offer our customers the features they want across our brand portfolio.”
The $30-million AV/ADAS testing facility will allow FCA to test different levels of autonomy using protocols from third parties like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and US and European New Car Assessment Programs (NCAPs). The highway-speed test track for autonomous cars will give the automaker the chance to incorporate tunnels, varying lighting conditions, and other obstacles into its testing, while the ADAS portion of the facility will provide for the testing of automatic emergency braking, automated parking, and other semi-autonomous features.